Debate on the future of the Houses of Parliament

Restoration and Renewal of the Houses of Parliament - 16th July 2020

I welcome this debate about the mother of all refurbishments. This building is the very fabric of our democracy. The building is steeped in such architectural and political history. It is the very bastion of egalitarianism. How I felt as a newly elected MP walking into the Palace is hard to put into words. Every single day I feel the sense of history that this building represents, and the bond that it has with the fabric of this great and united nation and those who have gone before me.

But what strikes me most is how much this building—this great place—means to those who work here: the staff who make this place work, from to the Clerks, to the Doormen, to those in the Tea Room who make the best jerk sauce on this earth. With their dedication, their loyalty, their own sense of history and purpose in being here, and their pride, they are truly the loyal custodians of this great place.

We should not forget that this building stood tall and towered over covid-19. No matter how it has tried to change our world order, no matter how vindictive it has been, it did not overthrow democracy, and here we will all remain. For me, it is covid-19 that unlocks the answer to what we need to do—that is, we must continue to debate and continue the scrutiny of Government. We need this great place to remain open to ensure that that continues. This is not just a refurbishment project about bricks and mortar; it is a project to ensure that this great symbol of our democracy remains every single day. I hope the way forward will be the mother of all workarounds, protecting one of the world’s most recognisable buildings and protecting democracy. But whatever we do, we must do it prudently and safely. This is the mother of all Parliaments, which has stood tall for over 900 years—and long may it stand tall for another 900.

 

Watch Suzanne's speech here.